THE ART OF LOVE: SAJAL ALI & SHEHERYAR MUNAWAR, CONFESSIONS OF TWO OF THE BEST PAKISTANI ACTORS
While romances are a hot topic everywhere these days, there are some friendships that every movie/drama money ships. Their impeccable chemistry and blockbuster track record is what cinematic dreams are made of. One of those hit on-screen couples which manages to sweep the audiences off their feet is Sajal Ali and Sheheryar Munawar. The two have managed to share screen space only a couple of times but this month the sizzling hot on-screen couple is back and how! For our cover shoot Sajal and Sheheryar has brought the old world charm with their unparalleled chemistry.
Kick-starting their successful careers more or less together back in 2011/2012, their showcase of a classic love story in this shoot will certainly make the audience go ‘wow’ and directors reaching to cast the two together.
Spreading some love and getting the heat on in our July issue, Sajal and Sheheryar pose like never before in completely new avatars. Sajal ditches her girl-next-door look for a bombshell diva avatar while Sheheryar is a charmer like always. We spoke with the actors on love, heartbreak and how much the world knows about them is true amongst many other heart-toheart confessions. This cover story is for the bookmark. Read on...
Hello Sajal and Sheheryar! So glad to have you both back on our cover Tell us how was it reuniting again on set for this shoot after so many years?
Sajal: It felt great sharing the screen with him after nearly nine years. Even though we recently worked together on ‘Sinf-e-Ahan’, it’s different when we have that chemistry in an on-screen romance.
Sheheryar: Absolutely wonderful! Sajal is a gem to work with and a powerhouse of talent and yet so unassuming as an artist. I managed to establish a great rapport with her when we last worked opposite each other in ‘Asmanon Pe Likha’ and it seemed as if we picked up from where we had left off but obviously it also feels like that was a lifetime ago. From what we remember you’ve only done one drama ‘Aasmanon Pe Likha’ many years ago.
‘You can expect something if Sheheryar decides to direct. It’s what I keep telling him; I’d love to work on a project where I’ll be directed by him’ - Sajal
What took so long for both of you to get back to working together? Should we expect a drama/movie soon?
Sajal: You can expect something if Sheheryar decides to direct. It’s what I keep telling him; I’d love to work on a project where I’ll be directed by him.
Sheheryar: You know I really don’t know. I guess we both just didn’t get around to doing anything together. I would love to work with her again, given the right project.
‘Love for me is the act of being selfless, loyal, accommodating, giving, nurturing and passionate. All of the above while still not being overbearing’ - Sheheryar
Any project that involves the both of you, always causes a lot of curiosity and stir amongst the audience since you’re both such successful actors. Tell us what are your expectations from this shoot?
Sajal: Whenever we work, there’s an expectation that something good will come out of it and more often than not, we do it for the audience. Whatever we do is for them.
Sheheryar: Well there’s a lot of thought that has gone into the shoot. Rao, the creative behind the shoot has put in a lot of hard work. I think there should be an old world film charm to the shoot, that’s what I’m looking forward to.
What’s your favourite look from it and why?
Sajal: My favourite has to be the white ‘kurta’ because it’s from my own wardrobe which is why I felt most comfortable in it.
Sheheryar: I liked the high-waisted pants with the big over-sized linen shirt and suspenders look we did for the pool room sequence. Again, I felt there was an older world charm to it. I’ve been inspired to write a period narrative after shooting in that outfit. Let’s see if something interesting comes out of it.
The shoot captures the essence of love between two people. How do you define love?
Sajal: I’m still searching for the meaning of love. I don’t have an answer yet.
Sheheryar: Love for me is the act of being selfless, loyal, accommodating, giving, nurturing and passionate. All of the above while still not being overbearing.
What was your first heartbreak like?
Sajal: When I found out my mother had cancer and when she passed away. That was the biggest heartbreak for me. I feel perhaps whenever we use this word, there’s a certain selfishness that comes with it where – we only think about our pain but whenever I see other people that are suffering, that breaks my heart just the same.
Sheheryar: Terrible. Crushed my soul. I was wounded for many years after but I feel I am who I am because I went through it and so I’m grateful for my first heartbreak. It came at the right time.
Do you feel like someone who has read the interviews that you’ve done and seen you on TV would have an accurate sense of who you are? Or have you been deft at hiding parts of your true self so that you have something to access in your work?
Sajal: I generally give very few interviews and even when I do it’s mostly print which is why I feel like people don’t know the real Sajal at all.
Sheheryar: No I feel like I’m usually very honest in all of the interviews I’ve given, whether they have been video interviews or print ones. It’s not that I haven’t been honest, whatever I’ve said has been true but the actual question is, have I said it all? Obviously no. Because what fun would that be ? I want to leave certain parts of myself fairly unknown to most so that the few who do venture out to get to know me in a personal capacity, have something new to find out.
Do you think that you are drawn to people who are like you, or people who are very different from you?
Sajal: I think we’re naturally drawn to people who are like us and our similarities are usually the first things we notice when we meet people but there are times when two completely different people connect so honestly it just depends on the person.
Sheheryar: Both at times. I do tend to enjoy being around people who have similar interests, beliefs, philosophies and dislikes but at the same time I’m also drawn to people who are completely different or do things differently than me. Being a student of human behaviour, I guess, it’s a very academic need to want to meet new different people all the time.
‘Terrible. Crushed my soul. I was wounded for many years after but I feel I am who I am because I went through it and so I’m grateful for my first heartbreak. It came at the right time’ - Sheheryar
Let’s talk a little about your upcoming work. This has been a big year for Pakistan so far with our representation at Cannes, then in one of the biggest Hollywood projects, 'Ms. Marvel'. Sajal now all eyes are on your Hollywood debut with ‘What’s Love Got to Do With it?’ Tell us are you feeling under pressure or just excited?
Sajal: I truly feel so proud that so many Pakistani actors and artists are working globally on different platforms and they’re being appreciated for example Mehwish and Nimra Bucha. It makes me happy because it feels like a victory for all of us. As far as my film goes, I’m extremely nervous and excited. I’m playing a strong supporting character and I’m proud of it because this was an amazing learning experience which we as actors try to bring back and put into our own industry. My excitement is always second to my nervousness especially because it’s on the big screen which means more eyes and I struggle with confidence when it comes to my work.
Sheheryar do you think Pakistan is finally having a moment that it has been waiting for with our actors making it to big international platforms? Or is there still a long way to go?
I think Pakistani artists have always been appreciated internationally whether we talk about musicians like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sahab or actors like Zia sahab or Talat sahab. I just feel now the world has become a little more borderless when it comes to the arts and so yes I feel now is a better time than before. The setting is a lot more conducive for the export of art and artists from Pakistan.
‘I’m still searching for the meaning of love. I don’t have an answer yet’ - Saja
Is there one scene that you could point somebody to in any of the films/dramas you’ve done and say, ‘That’s where I got closest to what I wanted to do?’
Sajal: There’s isn’t a scene that I can point out but one project that changed everything for me was ‘O Rangreza.’ For the first time I felt that I was doing something and that this is what acting is truly about. I let myself go and lived in the moment because that’s what acting is about. My mom had just passed away and I felt I couldn’t go through with any of it since I hadn’t studied acting to the point where I almost left the project. But I spoke to the director and he gave me confidence that I should let everything else go and perform. And so I did. It reiterated the fact that whatever goes on in an actor’s life must fall away when they’re per forming in the moment. It instilled the belief that this is meant for me.
Sheheryar: This past year I’ve experimented quite a bit with different type of characters. whether it was my brief cameo in Nabeel Qureshi’s film where I play a prisoner of war , or 'Major Osama' in Nadeem Baig’s ‘Sinf e Ahan’ or even Meenu Ghaur’s Neo-Noir crime drama where I play a lover boy killer - I thoroughly enjoyed creating these different characters. I’ve realised these are the sort of assignments I enjoy and want to take up, that allow me to experiment and explore myself as an actor.
Let’s do some liner notes for each of your dramas/movies. I will say the name of the project and then you give me a couple of sentences on what you remember most about it or what it meant to you.
‘O Rangreza’? Freedom
‘Sinfe Ahan’? Woman empowerment. Strength ‘
Aasmanon Pe Likha’? Sheheryar Munawar
‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’? I’m lucky to be part of this special project
‘Ho Mann Jahan’? Rebirth as an artist. My first film and some of the fondest memories I have on set.
‘Mere Dard Ko Ko Zuban Mile’? I found a great friend in Sarwat Gilani.
‘Sinfe-Ahan’? I learnt that as an actor preforming, it’s more difficult to do less than more, when it comes to essaying a character like 'Major Osama'.
‘Asmanon Pe Likha’? It was all raw, unfiltered, before I knew anything and had learnt to give the right amount.
‘I want to leave certain parts of myself fairly unknown to most so that the few who do venture out to get to know me in a personal capacity, have something new to find out’ - Sheheryar
THIS OR THAT
Fantasy or reality?
Sheheryar: Reality that feels like a fantasy or vice versa
Stardom or a long career as a
Sheheryar: A longer career where I
get to grow as an artist with each
Black-and-white or colour?
Sajal: Black and white
Eid ul Fitr or Eid ul Azha?
Sajal: Eid ul Fitr
Sheheryar: Eid ul Fitr
Summer or fall?
Winning the lottery or finding your
Sajal: Winning the lottery
Sheheryar: Finding my soulmate -
that is like winning the lottery isn’t it?
The odds seem the same (Laughs)
Misquoted movies or mistaken
Sajal: Misquoted movies
Sheheryar: Mistaken lyrics
Funny story or one-liner?
Sajal: One liner
Sheheryar: Funny story
Comedian in a serious film or serious
actor in comedy film?
Sajal: Serious actor
Sheheryar: Comedian in a serious
Be embarrassed or be afraid?
Sheheryar: Be embarrassed
Ambition or comfort?
INTERVIEW: SUNDUS UNSAR RAJA
CONCEPT, DIRECTION & STYLING: EMERGENCY ROOM 19
PHOTOGRAPHY: RIZWAN UL HAQ
MAKE UP & GROOMING: NABILA SALON